December 01, 2006

YP Bell Ringing for The Salvation Army

YP Bell Ringing for The Salvation Army

We have the chance to be a part of one of the biggest, well known community events around the country - Ringing the Bell for the Salvation Army. We are ringing the bell at a Salvation Army Kettle from 10am to 8pm at Cabela's on Saturday, December 16. It'll be a great time for a great cause and we need a bunch of people so go ahead and sign up in twos or threes for as long as you want.

Please check out the available times online at and e-mail Amanda at to sign up! And, in advance, thank you for helping out!

YP Holiday Social

December 14th
8pm, Whitey's

YP brings you Festivus 2006 - the "Festivus for the Rest of Us!" Not sure what Festivus is all about? Read the info below or check out these links.

We'll be spreading Holiday Cheer and networking with YPs - this event is free to all, starts at 8pm and won't conclude until the ultimate Feat of Strength is performed. Under the Seinfeld orthodoxy, Festivus is not over until the head of the household is wrestled to the floor and pinned.

History of Festivus
While it first came to the attention of most of America by way of the December 18, 1997 episode of Seinfeld, the celebration of a holiday called Festivus is part of human history throughout the ages, most notably in ancient Rome, nineteenth-century California, and upstate New York in the 1960s.

By December 2004, when Allen Salkin's article about Festivus as a real holiday appeared in the New York Times, thousands of people around the world were celebrating Festivus with parties, grievance-airing, pole-erecting, beer-brewing and the invention of new Festivus rituals.

Festivus Pole
An unadorned length of lusterless metal or something that looks like metal, this central totemic element of Festivus can be mighty or meek. Some poles are pinky-short and some tetherball-tall. Erected on a lawn, balanced in a coffee can near a photocopier, stuck in a pail of rocks in the living room or suspended from fishing line on the front porch. the pole symbolizes nothing.

The Airing of the Grievences
Like everything else Festivus, the AOG has evolved some wild variations, but the core of it remains lashing into others and the world about how they have been disappointments. This usually brings participants into a circle of sorts in which each takes turns excoriating friends, enemies, relatives, acquaintances and strangers. When all who care to have taken a turn griping, there is no required hugging or making up.

Feats of Strength
The FOS generally follows the AOG. Under the Seinfeld orthodoxy, Festivus is not over until the head of the household is wrestled to the floor and pinned. While there is an undeniable classic elegance to this, real world Festivus practitioners have developed other cathartic methods of discharging pent-up energy against one's fellows, including thumb wrestling and washer tossing.

October 25, 2006

YP Board Meeting & Birthday Social

Just wanted to make sure that tomorrow nights YP Annual Board Meeting and 2nd Birthday Social were on your calendars. The board meeting is open to all who are interested, and will get a recap of another successful year and the outlook and goals for the one upcoming.

And don't forget that the board meeting will be followed by another one of our signature social events. Work hard - play hard. The social is free and kicks off at 8pm with drink specials, including half price apps & taps and $4 B-I-G Oktoberfest beers for your adult consumption.

Also, put next Thursday, November 2nd on your calendar as YP brings you an exclusive Comedy event, complete with a pre-event social with comedians Dave Mordal & Chad Daniels. This event starts with the poolside social at 7pm, followed by special $5 YP discounted tickets and special seating at the 8pm show. Don't miss this YP exclusive opportunity!!

September 22, 2006

One thing after another

Sorry, updates have been so spotty but so has time and access to the Internet.

I'm now in Göteborg, which is known in the English-speaking world, as Gothenburg. Personally, I prefer the original version but it's so hard to pronounce. It sounds like "you-ti-burgie" and you say it as if you're the Swedish chef. Göteborg is known for being Sweden's second city, the home of Volvo and Ericsson (the cell phone maker) and the biggest indoor mall in Scandinavia. It's not that big but they all have outdoor malls here.

Tomorrow I'm in Oslo. I'd write more but there's a 15 minute limit on the free Internet at this hostel and all the machines are broken save the one I'm on. So there's a bit of pressure. Later.

September 20, 2006

In Stockholm

Hi readers, the last time I wrote, I was in København but now I'm about to leave Stockholm for Göteborg or Gothenburg as we English-speakers say it.

This trip is becoming a whirlwind tour by necessity because I got so greedy in my scheduling. Basically, I spend a day on the train and two nights and a day in each city before moving on. But I don't mind because it was always meant to be a recon trip before the really big Scandinavian visit down the road.

The confusion of the first couple of days have passed and I think I've finally gotten into the rhythm of backpacking. Language isn't the problem it was because, outside of reading a menu, I don't really need to understand exactly what the signs say any more. The procedure for doing things like making a train reservation or finding a map are the same here as it was in Copenhagen. (For some reason, I've never seen maps sold anywhere. I have to go to the tourist bureau for them.)

The other part of finding my rhythm involves somewhat detailed planning, the sort of thing that my mom does that drives me a little batty. Since I'm only spending 36 hours or so in each city, it's the only way to make the best use of my time. Yesterday, I made a list of things I thought I could see in one day and drew a little map of Stockholm to decide the order in which I'd do those things. It worked like a charm.

In something like eight hours, I managed to squeeze in a walking tour of the old city, the changing of the royal guards, finding a great view point of the city for a photo, a stop at a nice restaurant with traditional Swedish dishes, a walking tour of the harbor, the Vasa ship museum and a stop at a little farmer's market for fish soup. I would've done more but I only got three hours of sleep the night before having drank too much coffee.

Anyway, I'm losing patience for blogging since there's so much planning and traveling to do at the moment (It's 8 a.m. and my train leaves in two hours.). I'll leave you with some photos, which are available on my Flickr Web site, as usual. Some of them are a little dark because the LCD screen on my camera makes everything look brighter.

Actually, you'll have to see the pictures at my work blog. Blogger's being an ass and won't display my photos.

September 18, 2006

It's all Dansk to me

I thought traveling in Denmark would be a cinch because everybody here speaks English. They do, but a lot of traveling involves reading signs and following directions, which, in this case is written in Danish.

How can a Germanic language be so incomprehensible? At least with French, Spanish and Italian, I could guess the meaning of words but Danish only has a few grammatical and basic vocabulary terms in common with English, or it seems that way.

Here's a few examples of how the two are alike:
  • "Fra" and "til" means "from" and "to" when used with dates.
  • "Hej" is pronounced "hey" and serves roughly the same function in greeting people.
  • "Tak" means "thanks" and sound a little like it, too.
  • "Ja" is pronounced "ya" and means "ya," well, "yes."

But that's about it. At least with the Romance languages, you can guess more meaningful vocabulary terms. If you see "zupa de pesce" or hear a waiter say it, it's not that hard to conclude correctly that "zupa" is "soup" and "pesce" means "fish" or "piscine." I can't even read a can of soup at the Danish supermarket. It could be anything in there. Fish balls, chicken nuggets, matzo balls, who knows? I ran across a sign in front of somebody's garage this morning and it looked like it could've been poetry or a declaration of love or "don't block my driveway, assclown."

I blame Bill the Badass, which is what William the Conqueror would've been known had he been alive today. Old English and the Scandinavian languages used to be closer until Bill showed up with his army of, ironically enough, French-speaking Scandinavians and changed the English language by fire and the sword.

In the way that few native English speakers can speak Danish, all Danes speak English and very well. Oddly enough, most Danes I've spoken with have American accents and not British despite the proximity. As I've mentioned elsewhere, some Finns told a friend of mine that Scandinavian TV does not dub American movies and, consequently, that's how a lot of Scandinavians learned their accent.

Their use of the language is pretty clever, too, judging by the store signs I've seen. One is called "Kitsch Bitch," which I assume is a playful way to refer to their customers. Yeah, it looked like kitsch for women. Another is called "Golddigger" and if I were a golddigger, that's what I'd wear. And best of all, the Carlsberg beer advertising on Hans Christen Andersen Boulevard: "Probably the best beer in town." Who but inferiority-complex ridden Scandinavians could come up with that??

Buns of steel and guys in fur hats

The people in this town must have buns of steel and thighs of aggregated diamond nanorods judging by the way they ride their bicycles. I had a chance to ride with them this morning having rented my own from the hostel. All day long, there were girls in high heels and old people racing by effortlessly. It's like they did this everyday.

Anyway, the damage to the ego was not grave. Bicycling in København was too much fun.

This is a town that's done darn near everything it can to accomodate bicyclists. Nearly every street has a bike lane so there's riders need not dodge pedestrians nor fear cars. There are bike racks everywhere. On the stairs leading up from an underpass to the bridge above, I even found a little ramp on the side to make it easier for bicyclists to walk their bike up.

Here, bicycles are not simply some sort of recreational vehicle for which there are few traffic rules. Cars and trucks in København recognize bicycles as a normal part of the traffic flow. On the other hand, this radical equality means bicycles and cars are equal so cars don't automatically yield. This equality also extends to traffic rules. Here, turning on a red is illegal, even for bicycles. I'm assuming that's the case anyway because nearly all the riders I saw waited for a green to turn. Still, like other big city denizens, some riders skirted or broke the law when it proved convenient and safe, such as riding the wrong way down a one way alley.

Anyway, having a bicycle was infinitely better than waiting for the bus or walking. I managed to get to the train station to make a reservation, consult the tourism bureau, check out a couple of churches, stop at the Danish Design Center, see the changing of the guard at the queen's residence, visit the little mermaid, check out København's star fort, hang out on the Nyhavn docks with a beer in one hand and a pop in another and have dinner in the old town — all in one day.

The changing of the guard was an amusing event, mostly because the guards were so serious and the tourists kept threatening to ruin their little show.

The Danish guards looked a little like the Queen of England's bearskin wearing guards, except they dress in navy jackets, sky-blue pants and what appears to be fully-loaded M-16s or M-14s (I don't know much about guns but the ammo clip was in the guns) but they weren't as stoic as the Brits. I always thought they were supposed to ignore tourists but they kept having to stop and yell at dumbass tourists. (I was one of them, trying to park my bike by the palace wall.)

Anyway, this was before the cops came out. I think this is a regular thing for these guys because the mob of tourists inevitably get in the way of the guards who walk a complicated route to relieve their colleagues at four different wings of the palace. There were so many tourists milling about that I bet we could've rushed the guards and taken the palace if we wanted. But all we wanted were pictures of guys wearing fur hats in 65 degree weather.

September 17, 2006

Wanna see my "ø" face?

It's been five airports, three airlines, three lousy airline meals and 18 hours, but I've arrived in København, Danmarks. That's Copenhagen, Denmark to you, but I'm enjoying this "ø" key on the keyboard. That rocks.

Much in the way that my trip didn't.

It's should've been four airports, three airlines and 13 hours, but I got stuck at a second security screening in Newark, N.J., missed my flight to København and diverted to Amsterdam where I didn't have any time at all to go downtown to smoke dope as my friends suggested.

By the time I got to København, though, I might as well have been smoking dope. I was in such a zombie haze that it took half an hour to figure out how to take the train downtown — all the train schedules were in Danish and the guy at the ticket office gave weird directions for taking the bus — and an hour to figure out where that the hostel really is a five minute walk from the train station.

My temporary roomates are a bunch of East European types who apparently speak no English but do spend a lot, and I mean a lot, of time speaking their own. (What are you guys? Women? Shut up! Haha. Sorry ladies. That was a joke. It's been a while since I slept.)

Since I can sleep at 5 p.m. and wake up in the middle of the night, I decided to scout around for a few hours. København is remarkably compact with everything a tourist might want to see within about a mile of the hostel. And there are a lot of tourists because I keep hearing American voices in the crowd. That's odd. I thought all the Americans were in London, Paris and Amsterdam (for the dope). Maybe they're here for the women, who are svelte and fresh-faced from riding their bicycles all over town. There's a special bike lane on all the streets here so everyone rides. The parking lots are jam-packed with bicycles not cars.

Tomorrow, I'll go see the queen, or her palace anyway, and maybe some viking ships.

Now for a good snooze.

August 30, 2006

Heads up: Music and art Thursday night

Besides the Johnny Holm Band and Identity 5, downtown's got another event Thursday night: A new art exhibit at The Third Street Gallery. Donald Renner is the artist and he's apparently talking about his watercolors at 6:30 p.m. The gallery opens until 8 p.m.

Update 1:17 p.m., 9/1/06:I just want to say that the Johnny Holm street dance was awesome. Josh and Maria at Gilly's must've worked their tails off to make this happen and there were actually tons of people there.

Think for a minute how insanely cool that is. Somebody throws a live music event downtown and people didn't ignore it. See this picture for an example of what I mean. The last time I was at a live music event at Gilly's, back when it was known as Babylon's, it was me, about a dozen or so people and hundreds of frickin' crickets. My buddy Jaime actually apologized to the band because we have such a sucky music scene created by sucky music fans who don't show up. Was last night a sign of good things to come? Man, I sure hope so.

The other very cool thing is that the city closed off a section of Third Street for the event. I'm told the city really went out of its way to make the event possible, with police protection and such. Then again, the city probably just sent the usual swarm of men in blue that circles Gilly's every weekend.

Oh, yeah, the Donald Renner exhibit is really sweet so stop by and see it.

It's not just some placid watercolor as the description suggests but these intense and slightly-insane looking creations. Renner, a UND grad, said he paints the background first, pour alcohol on it and lights it on fire, which pushes the colors around as it burns and changes them as well. Then there's some seriously detailed ink drawings on top.

The first series of paintings is a mishmash of eyeballs and teeth and, in some of them, cartoonish breasts. Renner said he believes we are all part of a greater whole and yet there's this disturbing disconnect that allows us to fight one another, which explains how freaky the images look.

The second series is a human anatomy lesson: blood vessels in a hand, muscles in a foot, a fetus with little sperm like things bearing ideological symbols.

I took some photos and will post them soon.

Note to Mike: Thanks for talking up my prowess at the gym in front of the ladies! I'll have to return the favor one of these days.

Update 11:10 p.m., 9/4/06:As promised, photos are below:

Johnny Holm Band rocks the crowd. If you weren't there, you missed out.

One of Donald Renner's eyeballs and teeth paintings.

The anatomy lesson series.